Steve Jobs has been nominated to be the 2011 Time Person of the Year. Join us as we take a brief look into why he’s being considered, who nominated him and the interesting history he has with this very title.
A Fallen Hero
The passing of Steve Jobs hit the tech community hard. The heroes of the modern computing revolution are largely still living and even though Jobs went far before his time, this event serves as a harsh reminder that the young, crazy hotshots who changed the world thirty years ago are becoming old men.
That phrase, “changed the world” isn’t hyperbole, especially when it comes to Jobs. In fact, Mario Batali recently went so far as to say (in the context of a Jobs conversation), “I’m definitely of the belief that smartphones, the cell phone with photographic capability, has changed the world as much as the Bible has.”
Though that’s taking this idea uncomfortably far, I see what he means. Every home and indeed every pocket in the developed world has been affected by the achievements of this man.
Steve Jobs: Person of the Year?
Batali made that statement in light of a recent nomination that Jobs received for the Time Person of the Year, given by NBC anchor Brian Williams.
This tradition (formerly known as Man of the Year) dates all the way to 1927 with Charles Lindbergh taking the first slot. Other notable recipients include Gandhi, Franklin D. Roosevelt (three times!), Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Keep in mind though that this award isn’t always granted as a confirmation of positive achievements but is meant to reflect influence. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are both former Men of the Year. However, if Jobs were to win, this would in fact be the first time the title is given posthumously. Voting for the Person of the Year has yet to take place, we won’t know who won until around the middle of December.
Surprisingly enough, Steve Jobs has never been the Time Person of the Year, but he has come fairly close according to Walter Isaacson’s recent biography on the life of Steve Jobs.
The tale is a sort of tragedy though and did not turn out well for Jobs (spoiler alert). According to Isaacson, Jobs actually believed that he was slotted to be the Man of the Year in 1982, and looking back many would say that he deserved it for the work he was doing at the time on the Macintosh. In fact, he had already graced the magazine’s cover in February of that year for an article about a new breed of risk takers who were “Striking it Rich.”
Jobs brought a Time reporter by the office and enthusiastically encouraged employees to give interviews. In the book Jobs recalls excitedly seeing that specific issue of the magazine for the first time and expecting to find himself on the cover. Instead what he discovered was that Time had thrown everyone a curve ball by generically choosing “the computer” as the “Machine” of the Year.
When Steve opened up the magazine, he saw that it got much worse. Accompanying the cover story was a very personal profile of him heavily focused on some of his more negative and eccentric characteristics such as publicly crying at meetings and fathering an illegitimate and forsaken child (Lisa). Jobs admitted that the article was so bad that it made him cry.
The Rest of the Story
For Steve, this particular run in with the folks at Time turned out to be a disaster, but it’s not the end of the story. Jobs went on to appear on the cover of Time seven times while he was living and (thus far) once after his death. It seemed he was always coming up with some great new device to change everything (the Macintosh, iMac, iPod, iPad, etc.) and Time was more than happy to highlight those accomplishments.
Obviously, we AppStormers are rooting for Jobs to win out over the other candidates (such as “angry people” and Elizabeth Warren). As I mentioned above, given his work to bring the personal computer to the masses, he likely deserved the title in 1982. Now in 2011 as we look around our world, it’s nearly impossible to imagine it without the ripples of his influence present in personal computing, digital music, even animation.
What do you think? You’re obviously a biased audience given that you’re reading a Mac blog, but we still want to hear your opinion. Should Steve Jobs be the 2011 Person of the Year? Do you think he will be?